Alcohol duty freeze would ease staffing crisis, says pub landlord
Freezing or reducing alcohol duties would help ease the staffing crisis in Jersey’s hospitality sector by allowing bars to pay higher and more attractive wages, a leading industry figure has said.
Dozens of bars, restaurants and hotels are struggling to find staff and reporting that the labour market is the worst they have experienced in decades as fewer migrant workers come to the Island due to the poor exchange rate and offer of better wages elsewhere.
Last month, Sean Murphy, who runs the Lamplighter pub, had to close his kitchen after all three of his chefs left in quick succession. He said that the current recruitment crisis is the worst he had seen after 40 years in the trade.
Gavin Reid, the managing director of Randalls, said that greater ‘flexibility’ to employ migrant workers would help businesses, as well as less taxation of the industry, which struggles to pay staff well.
‘While I understand there needs to be restrictions in place to keep the population at a sustainable level, there also needs to be greater flexibility in how we can recruit in certain sectors of the Island’s economy,’ he said.
‘The hospitality industry is certainly one and has always relied on migrant staff to service its needs.’
He added: ‘Given our operations are not working to large margins, this is reflected in the level of wages we pay and therefore this also further compounds the problem.
‘Obviously any incentive to freeze or cut future duty levels would allow us to be able to reinvest that money into rewarding our staff.’
Mr Reid said that almost a third of the jobs advertised on the States website are in the hospitality and catering sector but there isn’t currently enough incentive for unemployed locals, who are deterred by the unsociable working hours, to go into the industry.
CJ Foster, the landlord of the Daily Globe, who has been in the industry for 27 years, said that he had never known recruitment to be as difficult as it is now.
‘I have never had problems in recruiting staff up until about two years ago,’ he said. ‘The business does not suffer at present due to the fact that myself and my manageress, Becky, cover all the hours that are needed with part-timers working when food is being served. Besides being the managing director of the company, I am also a bartender, the chef and pot-washer.
‘The five-year residence ruling is one of the reasons why I cannot find the staff that I want. The other reason is that I keep on getting told that a lot of people are better off claiming off the system. I pay £9 per hour and a meal, if food is being served on their shift.’